Having a laugh? – Using jokes

July 22, 2011

When I was talking at Language World about using authentic resources I gave an example of how a joke in the TL can introduce a serious topic.  The joke I mentioned  addresses the issue of foreigners in Germany, and in particular the status of Turks:

Lehrerin: “Bitte alle die Hand heben, die Deutsche sind.„

Alle außer Ali heben die Hand.

Fritzchen: “Ali, du bist doch hier in Deutschland geboren und aufgewachsen, also bist du Deutscher. Melde dich.”

Ali meldet sich. Als Ali dann nach der Schule nach Hause kommt und dem Vater davon erzählt, holt dieser aus und haut dem kleinen Ali eine runter.

Ali dreht sich um und sagt: “Oh man, kaum ist man Deutscher schon hat man Stress mit den Türken.”


The beauty of jokes is that the language is often very accessible whilst at the same time addressing quite complex concepts and issues.  After all that is the challenge of CLIL; to introduce concepts at the pupils’ cognitive levels whilst at the same time ensuring that the language is not beyond their linguistic level.

The example above could be used:

  • to introduce the Ausländer topic at A-Level
  • at key stage 3 or 4 to teach citizenship in the context of personal identity
  • to enable pupils to reflect on the multicultural society in which they live
  • as a model to be adapted by pupils to give biographical information
  • to show examples of specific structures/vocabulary in use e.g. the perfect tense,  subordinate clause word order etc.

Of course jokes can often reinforce stereotypes so obviously we need to use them carefully to make sure that we don’t get the wrong message across, but sometimes they can just be a bit of fun at the start or finish of a lesson:

Pourquoi les poissons-chats s’ennuient-ils dans l’eau?

Réponse: car les poissons-souris n’existent pas!



Language World 2011 – Make it real

July 10, 2011

I had a wonderful time at Language World yesterday – good to meet old friends and to make new ones.  Thank you to all those of you who came to my session.

The  slides for my talk about strategies for  using authentic resources in the classroom are on this page and the notes that I handed out with all the web references can be downloaded here.

There are many more examples that I could have shared and talked about so I hope to elaborate on these a bit more in the coming weeks and months.

Grammar through song

July 8, 2011

One of the real bonuses of having PGCE students working with you is that they often come up with fantastic resources and creative ideas for using those resources.  This song from the Lassie Singers is just one example and was used in a lesson I observed.  The lyrics are perfect for introducing relative clauses in German as well as for looking at adjectives and adjectival agreement.

Danke schön, Anke!

Language World

July 1, 2011

Language world is now just a week away.  This is the Association for Language Learning’s annual conference and is one of the major events of the year for language teachers in the UK.  This year it is being held in London, at Imperial College from the evening of Thursday 7th July – Saturday 9th July.  It offers a fantastic programme of speakers, workshops and other events, including the exhibition which is free and open to all.  Full details are on the ALL website.